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Chorus
O children, O saviors of your father's hearth, speak not so loud, dear children, in case someone should overhear [265] and report all this to our masters merely for the sake of rumor. May I some day see them dead in the ooze of flaming pitch!

Orestes
Surely he will not abandon me, the mighty oracle of Loxias, who urged me to brave this peril to the end [270] and loudly proclaims calamities that chill the warmth of my heart, if I do not take vengeance on my father's murderers. He said that, enraged by the loss of my possessions,1 I should kill them in requital just as they killed. And he declared that otherwise [275] I should pay the debt myself with my own life, after many grievous sufferings. For he spoke revealing to mortals the wrath of malignant powers from underneath the earth, and telling of plagues: leprous ulcers that mount with fierce fangs on the flesh [280] and eat away its primal nature; and how a white down2 should sprout up on the diseased place. And he spoke of other assaults of the Furies that are destined to be brought to pass from paternal blood. For the dark bolt of the infernal powers, who are stirred by kindred victims calling for vengeance, and madness, and groundless terrors out of the night, torment and harass a man, and he sees clearly, though he moves his eyebrows in the dark.3 [285] And with his body marred by the brazen scourge, he is even chased in exile from his country. [290] And the god declared that to such as these it is not allowed to have a part either in the ceremonial cup or in the cordial libation; his father's wrath, though unseen, bars him from the altar; no one receives him or lodges with him; and at last, despised by all, friendless, he perishes, [295] shrivelled pitifully by a death that wastes him utterly away.

Must I not put my trust in oracles such as these? Yet even if I do not trust them, the deed must still be done. For many impulses conspire to one conclusion. Besides the god's command, my keen grief for my father, [300] and also the pinch of poverty—that my countrymen, the most renowned of mortals, who overthrew Troy in the spirit of glory, should not be subjected so to a pair of women. For he has a woman's mind, or if not, it will soon be found out. [305]

1 Tucker interprets this passage to mean “fiercely stern with penalties not to be paid with money,” that is, penalties demanding the death of the guilty, who may not offer money to satisfy the claims of vengeance; and thus an allusion to “wer-gild,” known in Homeric times.

2 The down upon the sore, not the temples turned white (cp. Leviticus xiii.3).

3 He cannot sleep through terror of the Erinyes of his murdered kin whom he has not avenged.

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Troy (Turkey) (1)

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